Argentina's Angel Cabrera seized command of the 77th Masters on the front nine of Sunday's rainy final round with only a dwindling few rivals in position to deny him a third major title.
Cabrera, the 2007 US Open and 2009 Masters champion, birdied the par-5 second and par-4 seventh to stand on nine-under par with nine holes to play, two strokes ahead of American Brandt Snedeker, his last-group playing partner.
The 43-year-old grandfather is ranked 269th in the world but has found the touch of past years this week with son Angel Jnr serving as his caddie.
Cabrera, who began the day sharing the lead with Brandt Snedeker, is the only player to finish under par in the last round of each of the past four Masters. His only triumphs on US soil have come in majors.
Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott shared third on six under with Aussie Marc Leishman on five under -- all of them hoping to become the first player from their homeland to win at Augusta National to end the Aussie Masters curse.
Also on five under was Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, but he had only three holes remaining.
Scott, who uses an anchored-putting stroke, also hopes to ease the sting of squandering last year's British Open at Royal Lytham, handing Ernie Els the victory by making bogeys on the last four holes.
World number one Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, birdied the ninth and 10th holes and stood on three under in a share of seventh with Spain's Sergio Garcia, England's Lee Westwood and American Matt Kuchar.
Woods looked unlikely to win a major for the first time when he was not at least shared the lead after 54 holes. Woods has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and not won the Masters since taking his fourth green jacket in 2005.
Germany's Bernhard Langer, the 1985 and 1993 Masters champion who was trying to become the oldest champion in major golf history at age 55, opened with three birdies but three bogeys and a double bogey at the 12th ended his bid.
Rain hit shortly after the last group teed off, offering softer greens but causing many players to leave putts short.
There has not been a Monday finish at the Masters since 1983. Only in 1936 and 1961 has a Sunday storm pushed the final to a Monday.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese schoolboy who is the youngest player in Masters history, fired a 75 to finish on 12-over 300. He will receive the low amateur's Silver Cup.
"It was such a great week for me. I learned as lot," Guan said. "Still a lot of things to improve."